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Bull NYU Hosp Jt Dis. 2010;68(1):18-21.

Utility of pathologic evaluation following removal of explanted orthopaedic internal fixation hardware.

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  • 1New York University School of Medicine, NY, USA.


This report questions the cost and effectiveness of routinely sending explanted hardware to pathology for evaluation. Forty-six consecutive patients who had symptomatic hardware removed were enrolled in this study. Pathology reports following hardware removal were obtained, and charts were reviewed for these patients. The pathology department was contacted for related departmental procedure codes, and hospital billing records were obtained regarding the cost of the procedure. In all cases, the pathology reports gave the gross diagnosis of "hardware" and the gross description included the measurements of the internal fixation hardware removed. In no case did the report alter the plan of the attending physician. The healthcare system may benefit by subspecialty review of the current practice of sending internal fixation devices to pathology for evaluation. We recommend a single radiographic view along with proper documentation in the postoperative report to confirm the removal of internal fixation hardware in lieu of pathologic evaluation.

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